Report: Exeter City 1-2 Mansfield TownMagnificent Mansfield Town registered their first away win in Sky Bet League Two this term with a hard-fought 2-1 success over Exeter City at St James Park.
The Stags soared into an early lead when debutant Rakish Bingham pounced to slot home from just a few yards, after Fergus Bell's shot was parried by Grecians' goalkeeper Christy Pym.
Paul Cox's team then went into dreamland just before half-time when Bell scored an exquisite goal from the edge of the area, after Adam Murray's corner was only partially cleared.
Matt Grimes set up a grandstand finale when he found the target with an excuisite free-kick from an acute angle midway through the second half, but Mansfield held on to register all three points.
Big news heading into the game surrounded Exeter City goalkeeper Pym. The 19-year-old had played only the day before for England U20's in their 6-0 success over Romania. In other news, Christian Ribeiro was making his Grecians debut and Alex Nicholls was returning from a two-year leg break. As far as the visitors were concerned, Bingham was in line for his Mansfield debut following his deadline day transfer move.
The home side provided the opening chance of the game. Following a delicious corner in from veteran Matt Oakley, it was returned back into the box from the left only to be met by an Evtimov palm. However, this clearance fell straight back into the path of Oakley who drilled the ball across the face of goal well wide of the post.
The hosts continued with the early pressure. The Grecians caught the Stags off guard with a set-piece on 13 minutes when the ball was played horizontally in front of the area to Woodman who thundered the ball sky high due to a deflection.
The deadlock was broken on the quarter-hour mark by deadline day transfer signing and debutant, Bingham. The-20-year old forward capitalised immediately on the rebound after Pym saved in emphatic fashion from a superb Fergus Bell effort.
Mansfield then continued to switch through the gears and increase the pressure at St. James Park. Just moments later, Bell was up to his old tricks again as he tormented and tantalised Exeter's back five with a deflected chance gasping just wide of Pym's post.
Then with the spotlight shining firmly on former Falkirk man, Bingham. His link up play with skipper Adam Murray displayed extreme potential however it led to no end result. Chances then began to come more frequent and fast for the visitors as Bingham yet again had the select of the few. The youngster caught the Grecians back five asleep with only goalkeeper Pym standing in the way of his brace. However, the opportunity was foiled and the score remained 1-0.
This wasn't to be for long, however. The Stags extended their advantage by doubling their lead five minutes before the interval. Denied earlier on, Bell added his name to the score-sheet with an exquisitely taken snap-shot as the ball fell to his feet from a Mansfield corner delivered in by skipper Murray.
Exeter returned from the tunnel at half-time with a renewed sense of energy after a half time team talk with manager Paul Tisdale. After endless pressure and opportunities, Exeter's hard work and perseverance finally paid dividends with a little over 20 minutes to go. The hosts earned a free-kick on the edge of the area after substitute Rob Taylor committed a foul. Matt Grimes took the opportunity presented to him and the ball curled its way into the top corner beyond the reach of Bulgarian 'keeper Dimitar Evtimov.
Then as the game entered the final 20 minutes, the tables turned and the take of the tape was almost the opposite of was witnessed by everyone in the first half. The Grecians’ key opportunities came to the surface in the dying moments as Cummins cleared the bar from just six yards out following a clever run down the flank from Wheeler. Grimes also had a hopeful effort from distance, but most controversially, the referee waved away penalty claims of Tafazolli handling the ball in the area.
However, despite the severe pressure and efforts created by Exeter City, it was not enough to knock the Stags off their perch. Paul Cox's men now advance up to 10th in the table with nine points as Wycombe Wanderers await them next Saturday.